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Support: It Takes a Village
Long gone are the days of simply selling a product and moving on to the next customer. Today’s competitive telecom environment (all business environments, actually) calls for providing consistent, high-level customer service and support throughout the product life cycle. It follows, then, that support is no longer the exclusive job of the customer service and IT support departments; taking care of the customer’s issues is now part of everybody’s job description.
In her 1996 book, "It Takes a Village (and Other Lessons Children Teach Us)," Hillary Rodham Clinton focuses on the impact people outside the immediate family have on a child’s life, for better or worse, and advocates for a society that meets all of a child’s needs. The same can be said for the impact everyone in a company has on each individual customer’s brand or product experience, and how we are all being called on to – as a team – meet their needs.
All companies face a persistent dilemma of determining how many precious company resources to allocate to customer support in order to provide a high-quality customer experience.
The approach to support lies between two limits: high-touch and white glove, or low-touch and no glove. The first approach is too expensive for most companies or services and the second, while more affordable, results in weak customer relationships and a poor customer experience. Finding the proper place in between these two poles is nirvana for a business. First, each business must acquire talent with experience in support of sales, product, customer care, billing and maintenance. However, today’s buying paradigm also includes self-service. When done well, self-service can be cost-effective to the business while delivering a rewarding experience to the customer. A good example of a satisfying self-service experience today is the purchase of applications on smartphones or tablets via the cloud.
To reach the nirvana of support, then, requires a low-touch but white-glove approach to every customer. Low-touch in that the expert resources knowledgeable about every level of support are engaged in the successful automation of the process with human intervention needed infrequently. White-glove because each customer can personalize their experience with the company and product according to their specific buying habits or use of the product.
David Byrd is chief marketing officer and executive vice president of channel sales for ANPI ZONE. He previously spent five years as vice president of marketing and sales for Broadvox and before that was vice president of channels and alliances for Eftia and Telcordia.